back to article Haiku beta 4: BeOS rebuild / almost ready for release / A thing of beauty

Haiku is an open source OS with a few differences. The big one is that even though it has some Unix-like cornerstones, it isn't an orthodox Unix experience. The next is that it's pretty close to being a realistic, usable alternative OS for ordinary, everyday use. The Haiku Project has released a new beta version of its …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I wish them well

    Got the 32 and 64 torrents in place, will be seeding.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: I wish them well

      I remember J-LG showing it off at Demo96 in Indian Wells. BeOS was running multiple video windows on a Pentium 200MHz with 16MB (?) of memory. Very impressive, but (of course) there was no software for it.

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: I wish them well

        I saw the BeOS demo too. I recall that it was heavily dependent on the Metrowerks CodeWarrior development environment, which was my favorite IDE at the time. Metrowerks started releasing inoperative updates and that was pretty much the end of the BeOS demos. I never saw one again.

        This was about the same time that MacOS and Windows were highly unstable, both in APIs and reliability. I ended up switching from C++ to Java for primary development.

  2. FIA Silver badge

    Really enjoying these operating system articles on 'el Reg.

    Keep 'em coming!

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      [Author here]

      Why thank you! I am very glad to hear it.

      I will try to keep introducing new weird and wonderful stuff. There are several more in the pipeline already. :-)

      1. nautica Silver badge

        You mentioned it; I didn't...

        "...I will try to keep introducing new weird and wonderful stuff..."

        Speaking of which, one of the most weird (and, from all accounts, wonderful) OSs I've encountered in the literature is a real beauty named KolibriOS.

        It supposedly has already booted as one glances away; it's that fast.

        It's written entirely in assembly language; it runs with as little as 8 MB of RAM. It's an offshoot of the MenuetOS effort.

        For one account, check this out;

        as well as the official website, here.

        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: You mentioned it; I didn't...

          [Author here]

          > a real beauty named KolibriOS

          I have had a very brief look at KolibriOS, MenuetOS and VisOpSys.

          They are all mightily impressive achievements, but I feel that they are self-limiting. Not that many people can write pure assembly language these days, and not that many want to. Maintaining a large project in it, and coordinating multiple developers, is a bit of a masochistic project. I don't think they're going to get a lot of volunteers.

          I'm hugely impressed by how far they have got, but still...

      2. FIA Silver badge

        Too much of it may be lost in the mists of time, but I'd love one on Atheos, especially the early years. It seemed like one man wrote a graphical OS and underlying FS (based around BeFS IIRC) that was a bit like Amega OS, but not quite, then just gave up one year.

        It then got forked, but has since floundered.

        (Actually, my memory suggests the fork might be why it got abandoned, but again, it's years ago now).

        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          [Author here]

          > Atheos, especially the early years

          Kurt Skauen, a Norwegian developer. He is still around, working in videogames these days.

          It was an amazing achievement, but I think he did what he wanted to do and moved on.

          Syllable OS was the project that tried to pick it up and move on, but that's even harder for something of this size and complexity.

          I ran it in VirtualPC, I think, and it was amazingly impressive.

          But getting from there to something of general applicability is an even bigger effort. You need tonnes of drivers and apps and testing and vast amounts of error checking, logging, reporting, and so on.

          I feel that at this point, with the huge breadth of capabilities of modern OSes, the way forward is really radical simplicity.

          It's basically impossible to compete with Linux by taking it head-on as a general purpose OS.

          But there are tiny OSes out there that do amazing stuff that conventional 1970s-style Unix can't even approach. Inferno is one example.

          As I wrote in my piece about Optane, I would like to see someone confront PMEM -- persistent memory -- and tackle it the hard way. It is doable, today, to build a computer with, say, 16GB of normal volatile RAM and the rest of the memory map filled with say 1TB of nonvolatile RAM. Directly-accessible storage on the memory bus, no indirection, no blocks to fetch and write: just memory, but memory that keeps its contents when you turn the computer off.

          Let's see an OS that uses that as its basic abstraction. No disks, no files, no filesystem, no directories: it's all just RAM, but 99.99% of your RAM is nonvolatile. Throw away everything since the invention of hard disks and start afresh.

          Throw away C and compilers at the same time. They are legacy tech. They take an input file in one format, translate it into another format, and write that into a new file. It's all just RAM. You JIT compile something then leave it there in RAM for the next 10 years.

          The first time you boot, the OS is loaded into memory over the network, then it just stays there. Updates mean just loading new code.

          You can reboot if you need, no problem. Zero a few counters, start running again from address zero.

          We don't need the entire filesystem model any more. That's 20th century legacy tech. Throw it away.

          Lisp is too hard, but Lisp Machines and Smalltalk boxes showed some of the way: the entire live runtime environment is the workspace.

          Some Forths had an elegant model: enter code at the REPL, it's interpreted. Put it in a function definition, give it a name, and it's compiled and kept. That could still fly.

          Maybe a friendlier wrapper around Lisp, like Apple's Dylan. That's still out there.

          There's a lot of stuff that nobody is trying. Rewriting a 1980s design on 202Xs hardware is not the way forward.

          1. Nintendo1889

            Even better, give all computer systems a battery backup built in like most RAID cards have. Let everything finish writing, and shut down gracefully.

      3. Zolko Silver badge


        Yes, thank-you for these articles about OSs. By the way, did you se that the 1000-th edition of Distro-Watch featured that MX-Linux was their favorite distro ?

        As a remark, you didn't talk in details in this article about the Haiku kernel : is it monolithic, did they re-write the BeOS kernel (how ????), what's the difference from the Linux or FreeBSD or Minix kernel ...

        And while we're at it : did you ever try Minix ? I'd be very interested to read a real-world test about it.

        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: @Liam

          > the 1000-th edition of Distro-Watch

          I did, yes.

          I am still toying with the idea of trying to run it full-time myself for a while. Very promising distro indeed, and vastly easier than Devuan.

          1. nautica Silver badge

            Re: @Liam

            If you do decide to run it, perhaps you might expand on the very good article which you wrote last August:

            "MX Linux 21.2: Middleweight Debian-based distro is well worth a look

            We took our first official test drive and became a little infatuated"


            1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

              Re: @Liam

              [Author here]

              > the very good article which you wrote last August

              I am glad you liked it, and thank you for the kind words!

              I have a test install on one of my newest machines, and yesterday I updated it to v21.3. Works a treat. I do need a lot more free time for a long-term test, though...

      4. keithpeter Silver badge

        Add some synthesis of themes in system development and trends among users as the generations turn over and you could have a nice ebook.

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    What would make that OS stand out would be adding an implementation of overlay encrypted system profiles.

    This means that you would be able to log in to a different environment for the same user depending on the password.

    It would be impossible to prove the user has multiple overlay accounts on the system due to encryption.

    This would be a game changer for security and privacy.

    For additional security you could program an AI to actively use one of overlay profiles after training of your daily routine. For instance, visit some news sites, play some music, read emails etc.

    So when adversary forces you to log in to your computer you could log in to one of overlays and they won't be able to tell it is real or not and it will have all recent activity.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Overlay

      [Author here]

      > log in to a different environment for the same user

      Well, as there is no log in mechanism currently, that could be tricky!

      It's like the good old days of OS/2 2, or RISC OS, or AmigaOS, or ST TOS, or various other late-1980s and early-1990s OSes I used. You turn it on, it boots, you're in.

      No name, no password, no serial number, no badge, nothing.

      Fun story:

      I was at the launch of MS Office 97, waaaaaaay back. It was launched at an amazing private "magic house" in Kennington in South London, near where I lived.

      MS demoed it on Windows 95. Some machines got rebooted. This caused great consternation, because it displayed a login screen and nobody knew the credentials.

      I only heard about this later -- to be honest, I was probably in the bar. Apparently a lot of UK IT luminaries were baffled. Many of the hardcore types had already switched to NT 4 by then, a proper OS with login security. They'd forgotten, if they ever knew, that Win95 didn't have any. If you didn't know the password, or username, or both, you just...

      Pressed Escape.

      And off it went, full 100% access to everything. It only passed any credentials you gave it to network servers. Windows 9x itself literally had no use for them. It ran on FAT and had no way to check, apply, or store user permissions, because FAT doesn't do that. You are always the admin because there is nobody else.

      Well, Haiku is the same.

      At least for now. They could have got some of this under the hood, but I have not heard of it.

      I did not go into great technical depth on any of the clever stuff in Haiku, partly for lack of room. There's plenty. I hope that I will come back to this when I write about Haiku 1.0.

      1. Apprentice of Tokenism

        Re: Overlay

        > It's like the good old days of OS/2 2, or RISC OS, or AmigaOS, or ST TOS, or various other late-1980s and early-1990s OSes I used. You turn it on, it boots, you're in.

        TOS… Sigh. I loved it for its simplicity and I loved the machines for the possibility to control everything. Sigh.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Overlay

          Reminded me about a lecture on where we might have gone wrong since then:

          The Thirty Million Line Problem (1:48:54)

        2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: Overlay

          > TOS… Sigh. I loved it for its simplicity

          You might like EmuTos then.

          And the multitasking OS it was built to boot, AFROS.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only Jean-Louis Gassée had not over-played his hand..

    The world would have been a much better place. A much much better place.

    And if he had understood earlier what some of us had been telling him about why device drivers were so vital. And how to fix the problem. Oh well.

    He should have sued the hell out of MS for what they did to the company with the OEM customers. Totally illegal. Very very illegal. But everyone thought back then MS was going to be broken up by the Anti Trust case. Looked like a slam dunk like with AT&T in the 1970's. So why sue a soon to be dismembered corpse as it was going to be at least a 10 year case. MS legal tactics are always to stonewall for years and then settle out of court eventually. Their legal modus operandi for more than 40 years. MS always lose and then settle. If you can afford to hang in there long enough.

    BeOS. Everything that NextStep never was and never could be.


    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: If only Jean-Louis Gassée had not over-played his hand..

      This is very true and I agree.

      I did not go into the very dodgy trade practices that Microsoft did to make sure that BeOS was smothered in the crib. It did, it was documented and discussed, but it became public too late for Be.

      In very brief: Be scored _one_ big OEM deal. Hitachi, I think it was. They bundled BeOS on high-end audio workstations.

      But MS put a clause in the licence agreement for DOS and Windows that machines could not be shipped dual-booting or with any bootloader in place in front of the MS OS.

      So, the only way to get into BeOS was using a floppy diskette provided in the box... or to install your own bootloader, which is scary stuff.

      So as far as customers were concerned, they bought a Windows PC with some disk space missing.

      If they did not comply with the MS licence agreement, then MS said it would withdraw the right to bundle *any* MS OS with *any* machine from the same manufacturer.

      It was very sad, and due to it, no other OEM dared to bundle BeOS.

      This was the death-blow to Be and BeOS.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: If only Jean-Louis Gassée had not over-played his hand..

        In very brief: Be scored _one_ big OEM deal. Hitachi, I think it was. They bundled BeOS on high-end audio workstations.

        There were stories at the time that when Steve Jobs returned to Apple they seriously considered using BeOS, but they went for NeXT instead.

        1. Lennart Sorensen

          Re: If only Jean-Louis Gassée had not over-played his hand..

          Lucky for Apple that they went with NextStep instead or they would not be around anymore. Apple needed a modern OS to move forward, and BeOS wasn't a modern OS. Designing a new OS without security and multiuser in mind was idiotic when it was already well known how to do that. Unix had been doing it for decades, Windows NT was doing it (at least Microsoft realized that designing a new system from scratch with some API compatibility as the way forward for them), there was no excuse for BeOS to do what they did. They only fixed MacOS's lack of SMP and preemptive multitasking, without fixing the other major flaws it had. Adding multimedia support on top of any good OS is no big deal. Designing your OS around it at the expense of security and multiuser flexibility (you know a computer could be used by more than one person in a house) was just dumb.

          I remember using the BeBOX, with it's nifty cpu meters on the front for the two PPC603e chips. The GUI was terrible (those title bars that were not the full width of the windows looked dumb, and put buttons in places you didn't expect them to be). Eventually tried to put linux on it instead to do something useful with a dual cpu machine, but it was never very well supported and much faster multicore x86 machines became available not too long after.

          1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

            Re: If only Jean-Louis Gassée had not over-played his hand..

            > Lucky for Apple that they went with NextStep instead or they would not be around anymore.

            Much as I loved BeOS, I have to agree.

            NeXT had the dev tools to bring the Mac developers on board.

            Be did not.

        2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: If only Jean-Louis Gassée had not over-played his hand..

          [Author here]

          > There were stories at the time that when Steve Jobs returned to Apple they seriously considered using BeOS, but they went for NeXT instead.

          You have the timeline backwards.

          Apple tried to develop its own Mac-compatible, memory-protected, pre-emptively multitasked OS in house, under the codename Copland. (Note, not Copeland.) It got surprisingly far, but management concluded it would not deliver the goods and the company couldn't fund it until it did.

          So, it decided to buy a replacement. The choice was narrowed to 2 options:

          • Buy former Mac project director Jean-Louis Gassée's new company Be, to get BeOS.

          • Buy apple co-founder Steve Jobs' company NeXT for NeXTstep, get the co-founder back into the bargain.

          BeOS was small, fast, elegant, and state-of-the-art, but incomplete, with large parts missing.

          NeXTstep was a state-of-the-art UNIX, but it was still a UNIX: at the time, the specialist tech of high-end workstations, one of which, the Lisa, had nearly doomed Apple once already.

          NeXTstep had amazing demos too... but it also had the world's most sophisticated, rich development tools, too.

          Apple bought NeXT. NeXT people took over most of the management of Apple; the joke is that Apple paid NeXT for NeXT to take over Apple.

          I think it was the right decision. To quote an old blog post of mine:

          BeOS was a great OS, but if Apple had moved to it, its 3rd party developers probably would not have, for the most part, and it would have killed the company. Apple needed a follow-on for classic MacOS, it needed it urgently and it needed to be a blinder. BeOS did not have one crucial advantage that NeXTstep offered, and as such, it would not have had the same appeal, the devs probably would not have fallen in love with the new Apple OS, and Apple would have withered and died. What didn't BeOS have that NeXTstep had? Well...

          NeXT was going cost a packet anyway - it was doing better and had some big names on board. Some were working for it, including several people who worked on the Mac in the early days, including, of course, Jobs himself. It also had some serious clients, including CERN - where Tim Berners-Lee developed the WorldWideWeb on a NeXTstation, and corporate clients such as the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS). NeXT's OS was also beautiful, sophisticated & very hi-tech - but didn't run on Macs, nor even on the Mac's PowerPC processors. It offered 2 major advantages over Be, though: #1, getting Steve Jobs back, and #2, one of the great strengths of NeXTstep was its world-class, industry-leading development tools. Be had nothing to rival these.

          Amelio went with NeXT. If the Mac had to move to a new OS, then all Mac developers would have to learn to code for the new OS. Mac devs were pretty wedded to their platform, as were Mac users. And transitioning to a whole new OS, Apple really needed to get the devs on board.

          Classic MacOS's dev tools were nothing special and quite hard work. Be was moving its dev tools over to GCC but whereas this was good, it was nothing amazing. But NeXT's Objective-C and Interface Builder were in a whole different league. Getting the Mac 3rd party devs to move to NeXTstep would be vastly easier than to BeOS, as NeXT's dev tools were almost universally recognised as among the best in the industry.

          So that's what Amelio did, and history has proved him right.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If only Jean-Louis Gassée had not over-played his was not just Hitachi

        From the stories I heard at the time here were at least three Japanese OEMs who had signed and had to unsign because MS threatened to pull all licenses. Not just force malicious licensing terms on them. Which MS had done a bunch of times before over the years. Why do you think Apples MacBasic was pulled in 1984.. The Apple II AppleBasic OEM license. From MS.

        A few years before this would have been less of a threat. Due to the fact that MS did not have the Japanese market locked down like US/Europe. MS-DOS was just one of many different OS's in Japan. I think they had only been < 20% market share in early 1990's. If I remember correctly the Fujitsu proprietary MS-DOS'ish OS had biggest market share.

        Then Win95J happened..

        Now Win95J was the worst (and I mean the worst) version of Windows MS ever shipped. ME not even in the running. The bugs were everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Ever see tooltips crash Win95. Tooltips could crash Win95J. And it was one of those - let me track down the guy in Redmond responsible for writing this code - with a baseball bat - level of incompetence. Do you know how multi-byte ShiftJIS actually works..

        Anyway. Win95J changed the Japaneses PC OS market completely very quickly. No more successful PC vendor proprietary OS's. So that when BeOS came along every Japanese PC maker was a very willing customer because they had only been recently introduced to the profoundly abusive relationship that being a MS OEM has always been. The US and European OEMs had long fallen into sullen acceptance of being battered and abused by MS. The Japanese OEM's saw BeOS as their route of escape. But the abuser would not let go that easily. There was no escape.

        So Gassée who was quiet a bruiser in his own way thought he could deal with MS. But I think he was simply shocked at just how nakedly brutal MS would act. And just how much contempt MS had for what was legal. Or even the law for that matter. The only way you beat MS is to double down and punch back hard. Very very hard. Over and over again until they go away. Every time someone stands up to MS and punches back hard, they win.

        But Gassée lost a key 18 months or so because of the eternal device driver problem for new OS's. The people who write cool new OS's seem oblivious to the fact that 90% / 95% plus of the code base of a successful OS is devices drivers. Boring uninteresting god-awful device drivers. So you want a sporting chance of being successful, leverage off someone elses device driver installed base. By the time Gassée realized this, it was too late. Game over.

        I have to say like most people at the time Gassée was at Apple I did not have that much respect for him. But after watching him at BeOS, and especially the last 6 to 9 months, I gained a real respect for him. Not too many in this business will admit they are wrong. And do so publicly the way he did.That was a real going out with dignity situation.

        Oddly enough Amelio, the guy who did not buy BeOS and ended up destroying all the was so special at the original Apple when he invited the snake back in the building on Infinite Loop, also redeemed himself in his post mortem book. It takes real character to make such a public admission that you were wrong. And go into almost forensics detail about the decisions made while you were CEO and why they were wrong.

        As I said when Gassée asked too much, and Amelio did not listen to all the warnings, an amazing opportunity was lost. I know a lot of people who made up the ISV ecosystem that made the original MacOS such a vibrant, innovative and creative software universe from the mid 1980's to mid 1990's would have been very happy to transition to the very familiar BeOS world. But after the Rhapsody fiasco by the time a very grudging stable Carbon was shipped 4 years later everyone had bailed. To Windows and elsewhere. The unique Mac software dev ecosystem was gone. Anyone who was lucky enough to be in the Moscone Center every January during those years will remember what a uniquely wonderful experience it was. Nothing beat working a stand during those years. Best experience of my career. By far. Meeting so many interesting people. Both fellow developers and especially the customers. Such great customers.

        I think the last time I was in Moscone in January would have been around 2003/04. It was dead, dispiriting and full of ghosts. It could have been so different if Gassée and Amelio could have hammered out a deal. So much better. So much new and interesting software would have kept coming out of that up till then very healthy software dev / ISV ecosystem.

        I feel so lucky to have experienced those years of excitement and innovation. Very lucky indeed.


    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: If only Jean-Louis Gassée had not over-played his hand..

      I've always said Windows is the worst operating system we ended up with. Most people, and always the young-uns, think it's just an opinion. But BeOS and so many other OS's were FAR superior to Windows in every single way and have no idea how much better the world would be today if they had continued to evolve.

      And that's what the young-uns don't know. The good operating systems that were deliberately killed by Windows by hook and by crook.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: If only Jean-Louis Gassée had not over-played his hand..

        Well, "good" and "bad", "better" and "worse" depends on what it is one requires in an operating system. If one wants a sleek, fast, efficient and low security OS for personal desktop use, well BeOS or whatever may have been a viable option. But if one wanted to manage a fleet of corporate machines, Windows from NT onwards, and very much from Windows 2000 onwards, has been nigh on unbeatable, because MS did such a thorough job of it. Active Directory, as a means of bringing about that management, knocked the spots off anything remotely comparable at the time, and still hasn't been equalled. Even Linux these days simply chooses to go with this flow, with Samba. Even sssd pays attention to some GPO settings.

        Horses for courses.

        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: If only Jean-Louis Gassée had not over-played his hand..

          > if one wanted to manage a fleet of corporate machines

          I had a small NT 4 network managed by Netware 4.11, with NDS and ZenWorks.

          Later upgraded to Win2K, still managed by Novell.

          Novell's solution was, in my professional opinion as a former MS and Novell sysadmin, *far* better in pretty much every way.

          My first professional encounter with ActiveDirectory is what drove me to move my career towards Linux, in fact.

  5. Binraider Silver badge

    BeOS was very much a spiritual successor to Workbench, and as such I have a very strong place for this one.

    If the software is forthoming for it I'll be there.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      I don't know if there was any explicit links between the Amiga and BeOS, but in the late 90's, when Commodore was busy hammering the last nails into it's own coffin, and Amiga users were realising that we'd have to jump ship, BeOS was looking like the most Amiga-like choice.

      Of course, it turned out to be very Amiga-like, as it crashed and burned well before achieving it's potential.

      1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        [Author here]

        > any explicit links between the Amiga and BeOS

        Directly, technically, not that I know of, no.

        However, one of the stated ambitions for Be in the early days was to be the New Amiga. A very powerful multimedia workhorse, with an innovative, legacy-free OS, with very rich multitasking, and open to hardware and software hackers. That's why the BeBox included a "GeekPort" for expansion hardware, alongside ISA and PCI slots.

        There were intentions to take the good ideas from the Amiga but remove the limitations:

        • Amiga OS was assembled from discrete parts written in different languages. BeOS was all in one, (then) modern language.

        • AmigaOS had great multitasking, but no memory protection and adding that would break compatibility. BeOS was deeply multithreaded and SMP enabled from the first version.

        • the Amiga had no native networking; BeOS did very early on.

        • And it learned from the ST too: build-in MIDI ports as standard.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Amiga connects..none.. very different histories..

          BeOS came from the Apple ecosystem and Cupertino. Which had a basically zero overlap with Amigaland in the US.

          By that time the Amiga was mainly a European thing. Never got much traction in the US. Even in the 1980's. You'd see a few Amiga stands pop up at trade shows every now and then but once the Mac II shipped in 1987 the Mac soon completely took over the low end pro and non professional end of the video editing / post business. And owned the low / mid professional and non professional audio market

          Back then the market spit was approx 50% US, 30% Japan, 20% everyone else. UK and Germany were two biggest European markets. Maybe 5% each. Which is why something that might have been very big in Europe would just get a Who? everywhere else. Even if it originally came from the US.

          A lot of the key BeOS people had been on various MacOS and related teams in Apple. Quiet a few Blue people. And people whole bailed from Pink. To those of us from the Mac dev world BeOS was very familiar and comfortable. It made sense. It worked the way you expected it to work. Whereas AmigaOS looked just odd and weird. A bit like GEM. I wrote up several porting proposals for porting to AmigaOS in the late 1980's early 1990's for big name products. The ports never made sense for a whole bunch of reasons so never done. The main one was no market share in any market segment with revenue.

          AmigaOS and MacOS came from very different backgrounds and followed very different development paths. Influence of AmigaOS on the architecture of BeOS was nil. Win16/32 was an incoherent copy of MacOS so if any OS at the time had an influence on BeOS design it would have been Win32. Because that was the main competitor. The Chief Architect always looks at the competition. For ideas. With any ideas worth looking at in the NT 4.0 API. There were a few (very few) ideas worth pinching. Like the DirectX drivers. Cant remember if BeOS used Open Transport or Sockets. OT was better designed but Socket had won that API war by that stage. Stuff like that.

          So very much living in totally different universes back then. Apple/BeOS land and Amigaland.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Amiga connects..none.. very different histories..

            You've got it back to front. AmigaOS was developed in the US even though it found success in Europe, however many BeOS developers were European.


            I actually had one of the first BeBoxes at home in Stockholm

            There was only a small circle of developers then, many of them from France where Be got much of their initial capital.

            And Amiga developers asked Be for AmigaOS-like features and they were written into the BeOS:

            A case in point is Datatypes.lib, a generic data translation service much like EasyOpen on the Mac, except with an API mere mortals can understand. It started as a request to Be from some old Amiga developers to adopt the Amiga "datatypes" system service, which apparently is a very basic way of identifying and loading the contents of a disk file into an application. Many people liked the idea, but thought the Amiga implementation was flawed, and a lot of discussion ensued. To cut down on the clutter and flames, I decided one weekend to take the best of the discussion and just implement it. I did, and posted the result for comments. The first round was pretty harsh (and rightly so) but version 1.1 really had everything you'd need in a basic data translation package, including identification, import, export, making it easy to write add-on translators, and abstracting translation from storage so you could use any translator going to/from any source (such as disk, memory, or a network connection). Judicious use of C++ abstract base classes made this both forward compatible and easy to implement.

            And finally, it really wasn't really an Apple/BeOS land, as in the end we all know which OS Apple chose.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Amiga connects..none.. very different histories..nope you're wrong

              Got what backwards? I said the Amiga was US hardware that failed in the US but got some traction in Europe. The original company before it was acquired by Commodore was somewhere on Scott, close to the Lawrence Expressway. In Santa Clara. Bunch of ex-Atari guy I think.

              As for that quote. It was just some young guy from Sweden who did the BeOS port for Metrowerks up in Canada. And he was an Amiga guy. So? Big deal. No one in the commercial shrinkwrap ISV world of the time gave a second thought to the Amiga. It was strictly for two guys in a garage operations. Or small European software companies. Irrelevant.

              Be Inc and all the dev work was done in Menlo Park. Initially on cast off Newton boards by the sound of it. They had an office on El Camino. Just up from the Safeway. Drove past it many times back then. It was part of the Sand Hill Rd short cut (through the Stanford shopping center) if trying to avoid traffic on Page Mill / Oregon Expressway or 84. Thats when the first Dot Com bubble was starting to make Peninsula /Valley traffic a bit of a challenge. Trying to remember where I picked up the MacTech issues with the bundled BeOS disk just before Christmas 1996. Probably Staceys on University in Palo Alto. The Stanford University Bookstore did not have a good collection of tech magazine.

              There were some early dev boxes for BeOS in Europe. Because of Gassée. He got his start on the greasy pole in Apple as head of Apple France then Apple Europe. Only transferred over to Cupertino later but always kept his European options open. (typical 75'er) But all the developers who mattered at the time were in the US. And we were watching the developments very closely. After the great Taligent fiasco. And all the c-suite anarchy caused by Spindler's reign of error.

              And your point was?

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                Re: Amiga connects..none.. very different histories..nope you're wrong

                I might ask the same question. My point was here was a concrete documented example of an Amiga feature that ended up ported to BeOS in spite of protestations to the contrary.

          2. Dave559

            Re: Amiga connects..none.. very different histories..

            "Amiga… never got much traction in the US."

            Errm, Video Toaster, Lightwave? They might have been niche use cases, but they were rather important niches!

            Also, didn't NASA use a lot of Amigas at one time for their multimedia capabilities, which were far ahead of any of the competing platforms at the time, especially in cost : value terms.

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: Amiga connects..none.. very different histories..

              Not just for their multimedia capabilities:

              Even NASA used Amigas (5:30)

    2. Lennart Sorensen

      I loved the Amiga OS (still like it although it is of course not useful to actually use anymore).

      I had no love for BeOS. I see no resemblance at all.

  6. chivo243 Silver badge

    Just trying it now

    I installed it in a VM, it runs nicely. I'm picking an old lappy to try it on, looks good so far!

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Just trying it now

      I installed it in a VM, it runs nicely

      Won't run in Parallels Pro on my Mac :-(

      The 4th icon on the startup screen lights up then it just sits there.. I've tried all sorts of tweaks (kept the HD and CD both configured as IDE - Parallels won't let you configure the CD drive as SCSI otherwise I'd do both as SCSI).

      Gave up in the end.

      1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Just trying it now

        Try in VirtualBox. It's free.

        VBox 7 needs 10.15 or newer.

        VBox 6 works fine on 10.13 and 10.14 for me.

  7. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

    Great for revitalising old netbooks!

    It runs really well on even the oldest eeePCs (I have a 701 4G Surf) even though they don't technically meet the minimum resolution requirements - even the wifi works! It's even better now I've managed to "right" clock the eee to its native 900 MHz too.

    1. Gob Smacked

      Re: Great for revitalising old netbooks!

      Good tip... will try that one too, must have some tiny Asus eee buried somewhere, finally a reason to start digging

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: Great for revitalising old netbooks!

        Cool! Mine has rotted now that real 32-bit linuxes are no more.

        1. keithpeter Silver badge

          Re: Great for revitalising old netbooks!


          I'm downloading the 32 bit 'anyboot' live image now to try myself so don't let me put you off, but there are plenty of 32 bit Linuxen around (e.g. Void, Debian, Slackware) that seem real to me at least.

          1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

            Re: Great for revitalising old netbooks!

            Many "x32" builds wont work on the elderly chips in the eeepc series. The 486-grade chips in these things are missing some modern instructions. Certainly today's Debian won't play.

            Kids had 701s when they were small. My maxed-out one gathers dust due to the lack of a recent OS.

            1. keithpeter Silver badge

              Re: Great for revitalising old netbooks!


              Excellent answer, I'd forgotten the i686 transition.

              (Older Slackware 14.1 still has i486 on the package names but I'm dubious)

            2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

              Re: Great for revitalising old netbooks!

              Odd, I can run antiX, Peppermint OS, Q4OS Trinity, EXE GNU/Linux and even (barely) MX Linux 32-bit on my eee (701 4G with 1 Gb RAM) - they're all based on the latest 32-bit Debian or Devuan. The CPU is a 900 MHz Celeron, not exactly "486-class".

            3. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

              Re: Great for revitalising old netbooks!

              > due to the lack of a recent OS.

              Try Raspberry Pi Desktop.


            4. GraXXoR

              Re: Great for revitalising old netbooks!

              There were no 486 grade eeepcs.

            5. nautica Silver badge

              Re: Great for revitalising old netbooks!

              "Many "x32" builds wont work on the elderly chips in the eeepc series. The 486-grade chips in these things are missing some modern instructions...Kids had 701s when they were small. My maxed-out one gathers dust due to the lack of a recent OS."

              You are most certainly, absolutely, beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt correct. They are totally worthless.

              IF YOU'RE GOING TO THROW YOURS AWAY, THROW IT THIS WAY. Seriously. Deadly-serious-ly.

  8. jollyboyspecial

    I was a big fan back in the day. A small light OS without all the legacy crap that came with every other OS. What's not to like? But the stumbling block was the lack of application support. Way back then any FOSS OS was pretty poor when it cam to app support, but they have got better. It seems that Haiku hasn't.

    WINE sounds good to people who have never used it, but the problem is that it's never 100%. If WINE were 100% then it would still make sense to run Windows applications on Haiku for the simple reason that even with WINE Haiku should still be smaller and lighter than Windows. But because WINE isn't really 100% what you're left with is an OS that will really only let you use basic apps and the web. That's not necessarily the death knell some might think. There are a lot of people who really only use their laptop or PC for that no matter what OS and applications they have installed they are essentially using their device as a www workstation. However there's always Chromium OS if you want to do that (or even ChromeOS if you must).

    If some apps can be ported to Haiku then it may go somewhere, but without that I suspect that Haiku may sink almost without trace as BeOS did before it. I really, really hope it doesn't however.

    1. Binraider Silver badge

      With Google behind a significant proportion of the dev of Haiku; they may well be thinking of a "more potent" competitor to Chrome for different types of devices.

      Haiku as a front end for day to day office uses? Yes please.

      There's a gaping corner in the market for a wedge "bedroom computer" that just works, isn't too expensive, and runs games. Build it and we will come!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Haiku as a front end for day to day office uses? "

        You're crazy. Although the author and posters here so far have put BeOS in a positive light, I'm going to say it was trash.

        I used it on several devices in the late 1990's including a OEM BeBox, a WinCE tablet (ran as a VM) and even on a Sega Dreamcast for a media player for about a year (until XBMP came along) . Ironically, the official BeBox was by far the worst experience as you couldn't write anything typical on it due to it's quirky support for PPC. I still remember staring at a hello world wonder why on Earth it won't compile although on OS8 it would just fine. It's no wonder nobody Ported anything to it... they couldn't!! The GUI was about as great as the article describes... which is not great at all unless you love pop-ups (nobody does, it's why they died). The tablet I ran it on was the best experience I ever had with BeOS because I could write a touch driver for WinCE and it would work fine in BeOS... that should tell you something about writing for BeOS.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You ran it on WinCE and..a..Dreamcast?... Really?

          And I am suppose to take your opinions seriously?

          For those not old enough to remember WinCE was a kinda embedded OS that sort of worked some of time for handhelds etc. Yet another MS bug riddled monstrosity. Only really stupid people developed for WinCE. The less stupid people got MS to pay them lots and lot of money to make consumer WinCE devices. Which all bombed in the market. Some of the guys who worked at HP at the time have great stories.

          At the time WinCE was considered a quick IQ test for embedded programmers. If someone did not roll around laughing the moment WinCE was mentioned they were not to be taken seriously as embedded programmers. Competent embedded guys wrote in QNX, vxWorks etc. Even the guys in Redmond considered it a joke. The WinCE team was where all the MS losers usually ended up. At least during the late 1990's / early 2000's it was.

          And the Dreamcast. And its very bizarre SH4 based hardware. I thought the Sega CD had a truly bizarre hardware setup. Then I saw the first Dreamcast dev box and its schematics. We bailed on that dev project soon after seeing what was involved. A very good decision it proved to be.

          Had it ever crossed your mind that the problems you had with the BeOS box might be you and not the OS. I ran the first few releases installed from CD (one even from MacTutor I think) and it installed ran and CodeWarrior compiled merrily away and ran without any real issues. It was a damn sight more stable and usable (on a PowerMac 7300) than anything Apple shipped on MacOSX until the mid 2000's. I remember being impressed in 2007 that XCode 3 could finally compile without crashing non trivial projects from the IDE. Until then it was CLI makefiles only. Not very impressive for an IDE that had been around in one form or other since 1992.

          I still have the BeOS install disks somewhere. Plus the BeOS version of CodeWarrior. No PowerMac 7300 unfortunately. Long gone..

          So yeah, the problem sounds like it was you, not BeOS. Sure BeOS initial releases were not as stable as Finder 1.1g but it was far more stable than anything MS released before Win 3.1.

          So on the whole, not bad. For an initial dev release. Which is what it was at the time.

          1. ecofeco Silver badge

            Re: You ran it on WinCE and..a..Dreamcast?... Really?

            Thanks. /s

            I had almost forgotten the nightmare of WinCE. I was this close...

            1. rototype

              Re: You ran it on WinCE and..a..Dreamcast?... Really?

              And the frighteningthing is it's still not dead - Fiat Blue & Me units in their cars use this as the background OS for the Bluetooth modules and Yes, it's reliability is poor at best and causes all sorts of system instabilities in the car when it fails. Since I don't need 'that' functionallity I eventually managed to locate (hidden under the passenger seat - need to remove the seat to physically remove it) and disconnect this unit in mine and tell the system it never existed - much more stable now. I may (when I eventually sell the car) get it repaired/replaced but this isn't a priority at the moment.

              1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

                Re: You ran it on WinCE and..a..Dreamcast?... Really?

                Jobs stated he got the inspiration for the iPhone seeing an employee fiddling about with a PDA - I bet it was a Dell Axim with the phone module. I've still got one, plus the phased array GPS module which works in the jungle and I have maps of the whole world. Not that I frequent jungles all that often, or for that matter this world.

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: You ran it on WinCE and..a..Dreamcast?... Really?

            Why do you think that mentioning WinCE somehow cancels out their points? They didn't say they wrote WinCE, or even liked it. In fact, the fact that they chose to run BeOS in a VM instead of sticking with WinCE suggests they may have shared your negative views of it. As it happens, I had a WinCE handheld at one point. I didn't write the OS, I didn't write apps for it, I didn't even buy the device (come to think of it, I'm not exactly sure on the chain of people who had it before it wound up in my hands). I just had it and used it. I would hate for that to invalidate any opinions I ever have about OS quality.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: You ran it on WinCE and..a..Dreamcast?... Really? his post again.

              The OP was claiming BeOS was a heap of junk and quoted a bunch of scenarios that might bolster his "Argument from Authority" credentials with those completely unfamiliar with the platforms he quoted.

              But those of us who were not only very familiar with the referenced platforms hardware / software quoted, and were team lead / TD level people at the time, and who had been running BeOS without serious issues from the earliest builds, know he was full of crap. He had problems because he really did not know what he was doing. A not unusual situation.

              In fact he minded me of one guy we interviewed at the time for a project (who came from the WinCE world by coincidence) who had lots of strong opinions but his actual technical ability did not match the strength of his opinions. And they were strong. A good interview at the senior level (especially for embedded) is swapping dev project war stories. What did they learn. And did they learn the right things. And if you are wondering, no we did not hire the guy. We passed.

              First rule of a good dev. You start all projects not telling yourself what you know about what's to be done - you start by asking yourself what dont I know about what has to be done. And you try to answer those questions first. Front load all unpleasant surprises. Because there will be many. Guaranteed.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Thanks for letting me know I'm stupid.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Big difference between stupid and not knowing what we are doing

                  Because we have all been there. Fire up the system / board. Start doing stuff. Big problems. Everywhere. Start blaming the system. Because so often it is.

                  And then we have the oops...I think I just F'ed Up moment. Go back again, change something small usually, and then it all works as advertised.

                  Because we did not know what we were doing.

                  So I will usually always give the benefit of the doubt when someone had a very different experience with a particular platform. Diffrent people, different opinions. Not problem there. But in your case the mention of WinCE and then Dreamcast, both how they were used and then the conclusions you came to about BeOS, well, I've seen that too many times in the past. Hence the bollocking. Now if you had said you had used say Symbian and Sony PSX and had the same experiences you would have got the benefit of the doubt. Running ported software on the early Sony PSX dev boxes often had lets say interesting results. As were the early days of Symbian, nee EPOC.

                  Now BeOS did have some very specific issues and weakness's which as an old OS plumbing guy I spotted immediately after playing around with the first real dev release, DR6. But I never got the impression from your post that you knew enough about the the relevant tech or had the relevant senior level dev experience to spot what they were as they were never mention once in your trashing of BeOS.

                  So maybe not a good idea to bad mouth something you only had the most cursory experience with. You never know who might be listening out there.

          3. GioCiampa

            Re: You ran it on WinCE and..a..Dreamcast?... Really?

            So why post AC?

            You're expressing your opinion as did badflorist, there's nothing controversial in either post as far as I can see.

            No ball in this game - only ever encountered one WinCE device ever, which I found in a drawer at work one day, powered up, played with for a while, then back in the drawer it went - just curiousity. (I think we need a cat icon)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: You ran it on WinCE and..a..Dreamcast?... Really?..why AC?

              Why AC?

              Simple. I've not only been in the business for many decades and know better but I leaned a lot of very valuable lessons about online activity in the early days of the The Well. Back in the early 1990's. Leaned lots of very useful skills dealing with very obnoxious and vindictive tech trolls back then. Once learned, never unlearned. The mods here do a great job (mostly) but The Well was a great training ground for online opsec if you work in the business.

              Was never really a problem on CompuServe in the 1980's and up to the mid 1990's. It was a troll hostile environment, had fantastic mods, and everyone was there to have a discussion. Even if it got heated at times. TheReg is the closest to what CompuServe forums used to be but old habits die hard.

              So its going to be AC I'm afraid.

              1. GioCiampa

                Re: You ran it on WinCE and..a..Dreamcast?... Really?..why AC?

                Fair enough - I cut my online teeth on Usenet (and later Slashdot), so know exactly what it could be like - I think I was better at ignoring it all back then too (my better three-quarters can tell when someone on, say, Facebook has started to irritate... I'll probably have an aneurysm one of these days!)

                That said, while I have posted AC in the past 30 years or so, it's never been that frequent an occurrence that I can recall. Non-zero definitely, but not significantly higher.

                Oddly enough - the most recent one I can find is here (dating from July 2019) and is so utterly innocuous, why I did it is a mystery to me. (Odds on the link not making it?)


          4. GraXXoR

            Re: You ran it on WinCE and..a..Dreamcast?... Really?

            Why all the hate for WinCE?

            At least it was true to its name in how it made the users feel...

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        "There's a gaping corner in the market for a wedge "bedroom computer" that just works, isn't too expensive, and runs games. Build it and we will come!"

        I doubt that. This isn't the 1990s anymore. Cheap laptops and tablets are everywhere, and they meet a lot of those requirements. A cool OS like Haiku appears to be doesn't sell as many things as yet another iPad does, and there's basically no chance they'll get as cheap as landfill Android tablets which are surprisingly common. Mobile games are quite popular and the app stores are full of them. If you want something that's better at being a computer, cheap laptops are out there and run pretty well, with the original Windows or the OS of your choice for the more technically aware users.

        I don't think there's that much of a gap in the market. Any new computer will have to compete against a laptop, tablet, or both, and I don't see how Haiku, even if it's UI is as great as everyone here says it is (I never used BeOS) will take over.

    2. unimaginative

      App support for Haiku has got a lot better.

      Every app I have used so far today is available apart from Firefox (and there are a number of decent web browsers for Haiku), Zim (for which there is probably a decent substitute), and KDE Connect.

      It seems it has everything else I need (even QEMU, which I did not expect) including a lot of command line tools (ssh, rsync, ) so I probably could use it as daily driver if everything works reliably.

      1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

        Firefox ported to Haiku with all the addons I use, would be ideal - could I run Win7 with Firefox in a virtualbox or similar in Haiku?

    3. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      [Author here]

      > It seems that Haiku hasn't.

      This is not the case, as I spelled out in the article.

      Haiku has a pretty good app catalogue and there are lots of Linux ports, as well as a few BSD ports too.

      And there's WINE and DOSbox so you can run Windows and DOS apps, too.

      I think already, before version 1.0, Haiku has 100x more apps than BeOS ever did.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Does it connect to fileshares or did you not get that far in your testing? NFS ideally but SMB/CIFS will do. I've got an old EeePC[*] begging for something like this. I've looked at Haiku on and off over the years and been impressed by the progress so something that sounds like it's small, fast and finally "capable" would be a godsend for older kit, especially if the onboard wireless might be supported :-)

        * Currently dual booting Win7 and LinuxMint, both of which struggle a bit, but only really used for "Lounge" browsing while watching TV, eg IMDB look-ups :-)

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          My google-fu seems to have improved since posting. NFS works but seems to be reported as buggy. Sounds good enough for my limited use case though. I'll give it a try at the weekend :-)

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      What's not to like?

      Well, for me, personally, it's 1) the lack of security, and more importantly 2) it's Yet Another WIMP UI. I really can't be bothered experimenting with another OS that gives me another serving of that unappetizing dish.

      Enjoyed the article, though, and I think it's a pity Be did not succeed, even if their products didn't interest me personally.

  9. Ace2 Silver badge

    Back in the day it had no support, at all, for multiuser or file-based permissions or anything like that. Has that changed? How would you do any modern anti-malware protection with that kind of security model?

    It ran great on my dual-PII. It was so cool to see both processor bars light up at the same time.

    1. Cian_

      The underlying OS now supports users and standard file permissions, but you are the root user when running.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        > but you are the root user when running.

        Will this present an insurmountable problem down the line, should Haiku become widely adopted? Or are there ways of mitigating the security issues?

        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          [Author here]

          > Will this present an insurmountable problem down the line

          It's impossible to say right now.

          Haiku does understand and can apply Unix file ownership and permissions. But currently, you're always root and as such it ignores them.

          The BeFS is extraordinarily rich and can do a lot of stuff no other FS can, although several of its developers ended up at Apple and have re-implemented some of the fun stuff there.

          I think what Haiku *might* end up with is a model a bit like a standalone Windows Vista box: for most people, there's one user account, and you normally use that, and it has restricted permissions. There's a (maybe semi-hidden) root account, and when you need to do something, you have to say "yes I mean it", every time.

          But this is idle speculation. I do not know what they plan to do in future versions.

        2. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

          At home, I'm logged in as Admin at all times anyway - prevents some problems but of course creates many others, but I prefer it. I have no need for multi user profiles and permissions...

  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Really good news!

    I've been watching this with interest since I first heard about it. Looks like I'll have to find time to give it a spin. I've an eeePC901 hanging around as well as an old dual core Athon machine. I'm also hoping it can be ported to the Raspberry Pi - that would make a dramatic improvement!

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Really good news!

      I don’t think any ARM version exists yet, but this is a promising candidate to fit between RISC OS and Linux.

      I’m guessing there is no GPU acceleration, and perhaps Haiku doesn’t need of for its already efficient gui, but video playback would benefit.

  11. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    Still looking for a candidate to replace GhostBSD on my T430, might give this a spin

  12. nautica Silver badge

    <sarcasm>Give me a BREAK!</sarcasm>

    An 1990 operating system which features multi-threading, pre-emptive multitasking, symmetric multiprocessing, a monolithic (hybrid) microkernel...and whose size, today--right now--is less than 1200 megabytes? Give me a break!!


    From Linux Magazine:

    "Haiku Close Up"

    Article from Issue 216/2018

    Author(s): Alexander Tolstoy

    "...Haiku has relatively modest hardware requirements. It needs an x86-compatible CPU (Pentium II or above), 128MB of RAM (1GB is recommended), and at least 700MB of hard drive space. Our aging Sandy Bridge-based machine felt like a super-speed jet with Haiku...The Haiku desktop boots in just a fraction of time compared with an average systemd-based Linux system (which is not slow at all, by the way)...Although Haiku is a relatively small project, it stands on the shoulders of BeOS, a perfectly designed, well-tested, and polished operating system, which is why Haiku feels like a finished product. Haiku is perhaps the only non-mainstream OS that offers unexperienced users such a great variety of available software..."


    From DistroWatch

    3 Aug 2020, review of r1 beta2

    "...Haiku is approximately on par in terms of user friendliness with such mainstream Linux distributions as Linux Mint or Pop!_OS, while being a fraction of their size...Haiku is rare in that it worked with all of my laptop's hardware. This meant I could fire up the laptop and be on-line in under 30 seconds from the power button being pressed to the time I was checking my preferred news sites. Not many operating systems can balance that kind of efficiency with this level of hardware support and my hat is off to the Haiku team... Haiku can be used almost exclusively to accomplish my work on a day-to-day basis on my laptop now and I am impressed with what this light, responsive, desktop-oriented project has accomplished in recent years..."


    from OSnews

    "A Programmer’s Introduction to the Haiku OS"

    Guest post by Andrew Hudson 2011-07-14

    "...An exceptional feature of Haiku that sets it apart from other operating systems is the fact that every window has, by default, two separate threads. One thread for graphic updates, and a second thread for user interaction. One thread runs inside the application server, and the other inside the application. This allows visual updates to occur completely separately from IO. This is a major contributing factor to the overall responsiveness of Haiku. It also means that every Haiku application with a window is both multithreaded, and supports multiprocessing by default. More threads can be spawned as needed, and Haiku natively supports the POSIX threads interface. This solves the common problem of applications becoming unresponsive during disk, CD, or network activities..."


    I have found the operating system I've been looking for. And no, I do not need a multi-user OS. I have, and use a PC, a personal computer.

  13. fromxyzzy

    Been a few years since I last played with Haiku, I think I may still have it running on an old P4 laptop in a closet. Sounds far more usable now.

  14. pdh


    > Just for reference, this article was written on Haiku itself, on the bare metal of an old ThinkPad W500

    Best laptop ever. Mine is 13 years old, running Ubuntu Linux. I dropped an SSD drive in it last year, to perk it up a bit. Hoping to get another decade out of it.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: W500

      [Author here]

      > Best laptop ever.

      :-) It's a bit of a chunky beast, to be fair.

      It's a lovely machine with a great keyboard, but it's getting a bit sluggish. I've tried openSUSE, Ubuntu and Windows 7 on mine, and all were... not super quick.

      For portability and toughness, I favour my X200, TBH. Widely held to be The Best Laptop Ever Made, as I have mentioned in the past:

      I reviewed Alpine on my W500:

      It is still there, updates smoothly. Alpine uses 3 primary partitions, which leaves little room for anything else. Haiku needs a primary partition, I believe. So, I left Alpine's boot partition, but copied `/` and `swap` into logical partitions with SystemRescue and GParted. I deleted the originals. It booted without a hiccup as it locates partitions by GUID not by device name or number. I updated it then installed Haiku.

      Alpine uses `syslinux` instead of GRUB, and it could not detect the new OS. So, I removed syslinux, installed GRUB, wrote it to the boot sector, added a Haiku stanza to a GRUB config file, and now it dual-boots smoothly. All the steps are documented on the Alpine and Haiku sites. Alpine can't mount the Haiku partition, but Haiku can mount Alpine's partitions.

      It all went impressively smoothly. When time permits I will try Haiku on some newer hardware as well, but my to-do list is lengthy and not getting any shorter...

      I also have a W520, which is a similar size and shape, quite substantially faster, can support an mSATA SSD in its mini-PCI slot, and the quad-core model of which has 4 SO-DIMM slots, meaning mine has 16GB of RAM which cost about £5, and it can take 32GB. The only downside is that it needs a special power brick. For me, the W520 is better: much more capable and quite a powerhouse even after a decade. It's about as portable as a breeze-block, though.

  15. that one in the corner Silver badge

    Good ideas from the comments here

    I've got an eeePC sitting around, unloved; giving Haiku a try on it could be fun.

    If only I had the faintest idea where my old boxed set of BeOS is, it has a printed manual, easier on the rheumy old eyes.

  16. elbisivni

    Just installed it on a 2011 Mac Mini.

    Reminds me of the brief time I had with an original BeBox, except it's much faster. Don't know what I'll use it for, but it's nice to play with it again.

  17. Bartholomew

    BeOS was totally amazing

    BeOS could do this 27 years ago, always blows my mind, on a dual core pentium 2 @ 266MHz (They even disable one CPU core) with 64 MiB of RAM, a 3GiB HDD and two hauppauge video capture cards:

    1. Down not across

      Re: BeOS was totally amazing

      Thank you for the link. I recall the demo very well. Had BeOS on one machine for a while and loved it. Sadly at the time software availability (whether free or paid for) was just too limiting. They definitely had multimedia handling done right and nothing like the battles with Windows and Hauppauge cards.

      I will have to give it another whirl now.

  18. MadMic

    Psion, what a machine

    I had the Sena, 3c, 3c mx and 5mx devices - they were fantastic. Ran for almost 2 weeks on 2 AA batts, never crashed or needed resetting. I even taught myself OPL programming on one. Those were the days!

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Psion, what a machine

      [Author here]

      Yes, I'm a Psion fan too.

      In case you missed it, I wrote about a new Psion add-on recently:

      Andrew Orlowski did perhaps the definitive history of Psion here some years ago:

    2. Down not across

      Re: Psion, what a machine

      The 3 was just right for pocketability. The keyboard on 5 was fantastic and screen was nicer too. Many colleagues went for Palm Pilots but I preferred the Psions. Should still have Psions in boxes somewhere. may have to hunt, although i seem to recall display cable issue on some.

      OPL was great for passing time, especially on airports and planes and trains. Later i used pretty much just Nokia Communicator instead of 3/5.

      1. Dante Alighieri

        Re: Psion, what a machine

        recently tried to fix 2 x 5mx cables. soldering iron a little too hot and failed. Scraped wish I had the link in the other thread to have had them repaired as only found 1 supplier no longer fixing.

        Making do with an Astro Slide now,

        RISC OS mega fan here though.

      2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Psion, what a machine

        > Many colleagues went for Palm Pilots but I preferred the Psions.

        A favourite little trick of mine down the pub was, when a friend started scribbling my contact details into their Palm or Visor, I'd beam my contact card to them over IRDA from my Psion 5.

        Their "scribble thing" went >BING< and then all my details were just... _there_.

        It generally blew their minds; they had no idea the gadgets could do that.

      3. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

        Re: Psion, what a machine

        I still miss my old Nokia Communicator, and regret selling "The Brick"... it was sooo useful, even had a dialup modem. The Cosmo Communicator is wildly annoying in lots of little ways in terms of hardware design, plus constant bugginess, which doesn't get deloused.

      4. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

        Re: Psion, what a machine

        A shrunk Sony VAIO P would suit me even better - I completely fail to understand why manufacturers don't see the market for something like that. I'd be happy with a new product of Psion 3's dimensions and weight, soprting the same puny Atom CPU the VAIO P contains, capable of running Windows XP or 7.

        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: Psion, what a machine

          [Author here]

          > A shrunk Sony VAIO P would suit me even better

          I agree with you, but I have to observe that there are several tiny PCs out there that approach this.

          Here is one example:

          And the later, higher-spec model:

          What puts me off them is the keyboards, TBH. I know a few people who have them and love the things.

          1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

            Re: Psion, what a machine


            When I saw those I was quite amped, because it'd be nice to have a new and more powerful ultra-luggable device... but they're too darned wide! I mean, it's called the "Pocket", but I don't have any pockets which would accommodate that! Or are pockets larger in China? The Sony VAIO P is narrower and just about fits into a few of my coats, I'd prefer if one could carried about in a shirt pocket. I'm about to ask a tailor to make an old leather jacket inner pocket larger, for my VAIO P lol - fashioning a pocket wide enough for the GPD Pocket would be impractical methinks. There were some smaller XP ultraportables of the same or slightly earlier era, which sometimes pop up on fleabay with issues, often the batteries are made using unobtainium or they're in some other language, or are too low performance to be of any use. Plus old stuff breaks easy. Although a bit too big, I haven't seen Sony's Transmeta Crusoe poweredultrabooks appear, but there's the occasional OQO - OQONONO! High purity unobtanium battries required! Besides, I'd never get the band back together and it'd do a lot of screeching.



            > What puts me off them is the keyboards, TBH.

            I agree - icky horrible rubber keys! Very Sinclair. The symbols will rub off in no time, probably - paint doesn't fare well with stretching, rubber wears down, or at least my ebike tyres do.

            Until some manufacturers sees sense and produces icle energy-sipping laptops which fit into normal pockets at a reasonable price, I'm holding that purchasing money hostage. For now, I'm stuck with the VAIO P a bit longer. Must swap out that HDD for a 1.8" SSD, after I source a thin and small adapter which will fit... then backup an .ISO of the old drive (facilitated by another adapter) and then go nuts trying different OSs and multiboots - Haiku is first on the list! Hope you do it first ;)


  19. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    "It doesn't have Windows 95-style two-pane Explorer windows, with the folder tree in the left pane and the contents of the currently selected one in the right pane. Even though most Linux desktops have that now, it's a Windowsism that wasn't invented until after BeOS came out. "

    Norton Commander and similar utilities had that under DOS long before Microsoft adopted the idea. I had a friend who wrote such a file manager for DOS before Windows had it (while Windows was still a failure at version 1). This would have been before 1989.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      [Author here]

      > Norton Commander and similar utilities had that under DOS long before Microsoft adopted the idea.

      I think you slightly got hold of the wrong end of the stick.

      I was not claiming this was _new_ to Win95. What I am saying is that almost every other desktop, even GNOME, uses the Win95 style of file manager window now.

      This specific 2-pane design, tree on the left and contents on the right, I think was new in Windows 3.1. Compare the Windows 3.0 and Windows 3.1 File Manager screenshots here:

      Windows 3.0 had the tree in its own window, and that is what OS/2 ≥2's Workplace Shell inherited as well, as you can see on the same page.

      Secondly, it's important not to confuse the basic two-pane design with the specific implementation where the left pane functions only to allow you to navigate what is shown in the right pane. They work as an inseparable pair. The classic Win3.1 mode of operation for many people was to have two of these subwindows open, typically side by side, for a total of 4 panes. Some found that confusing, though, which is I suspect why MS added "cut", "copy" and "paste" commands.

      The more generic 2-pane file manager, with independent navigation in each and the pair act as source and destination, is a design now known as an Orthodox File Manager:

      The first two-pane file manager is contentious, but yes, Norton Commander was up there:

      However PathMinder was at least a year older:

  20. flayman Bronze badge

    Excellent article

    This is an excellent, fascinating, and informative article. I can really sense the author's enthusiasm and excitement. I've never tried BeOS, but I'm minded to give this Haiku a spin. I've long been a fan of the elegant simplicity of the classic Mac OS experience.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Excellent article

      [Author here]

      Thank you very much. I am very glad you liked it, and indeed quite a few people seem to be. :-)

      1. fnusnu

        Re: Excellent article

        Just tried it in a VM having watched the project for a long time courtesy of Eugenia Loli-Queru at

        It's fast and a bit of a throwback to earlier (happier?) computing days

      2. Rikki Tikki

        Re: Excellent article

        Liam, a very readable and informative article. I'm persuaded to give Haiku a go - I have a old laptop that scarcely ever gets used now (it runs like a diseased sloth since it was "upgraded" to Windows 10).

  21. Tubz Silver badge

    Imagine the unholy alliance of ReactOS + BeOS in one OS, wouldn't you like to be at that M$ meeting !

    1. Lennart Sorensen

      Remember two wrongs don't make a right.

  22. keithpeter Silver badge

    Yeah, Baby

    Typing this using the WebPositive Web browser on Haiku using a 32bit USB live image. Core duo /3Gb ram

    Snappy and fun. Someone has been having a laugh with the comments against some of the items in top in the terminal.

    (No Vi, not even ed, you get Nano 6.x though).

    Wishing the project well. Needs an office package (other than Caligra).

    Is reminiscent of Mac 9 and similar.

    1. Bebu Silver badge

      Re: Yeah, Baby

      "...not even ed..."

      careful what you wish for :)

      Porting vim might be a stretch but I think as long as some sort of termcap/terminfo + curses support is available a classic vi could be ported from bsd or system v code.

      1. keithpeter Silver badge

        Re: Yeah, Baby

        I mean nano is absolutely fine for what config files need to be changed at the terminal level. Especially as most configuration for the user is done graphically in the desktop.

        PS; ed has its uses

  23. Orv Silver badge

    My memory of BeOS is selecting a bunch of MP3 files and choosing to open them, and having it play them all *simultaneously* instead of queuing them. Which did a good job showing off the then-unusual software mixer capability, but also sort of followed the OS's pattern of doing whatever would seem cool to geeks instead of what a normal user would expect. ;)

  24. Stork Silver badge

    Interesting read

    No idea it was still around.

    Talking about snappy, I have a G4 Cube and have just reinstalled OS 9 on it. Responsive and very little waste of screen real estate. Now I just have to find an old version of iTunes to play music:-)

  25. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    @Liam Proven

    Have you tried Haiku on your Sony VAIO P? I might install it on mine, after swapping out the HD for a SSD... which I'm ashamed to say, I still haven't located a Round Tuit to enable such yet. I'm still umming and ahhing about whether an SSD will fit with a converter, and which converter? I may have to try a few. If it plays music and movies better than Windows 7, is capable of editing field recordings, can connect an external USB soundcard, runs a basic DAW, surfs the web and some version of "Office" variant can be ported, it'll be a keeper for that device as a multiboot option, at the very least. But I'm not holding out much hope because of the VAIO P's puny graphics hardware, which fails to even play Youtube videos without stuttering (I believe this an Intel driver writing issue, their being negligent)(Youtube audio plaback is ok).

    KolibriOS on VAIO P perhaps? Small and light might work out better for it's weakling Atom CPU. I don't want to overclock, passive cooling wouldn't keep up. Looks very interesting, I might have a go.

    VAIP P battery: I have the original, which is on it’s last legs so I bought a new high capacity “New old stock” version on fleabay. That yields very good battery life indeed, but does so bulkily… so I tried to source another new battery in the slim form factor of the original… but got sent a mislabelled apparently unused new and incompatible version… for which I got a complete refund. I then started wondering if I could simply swap over the lithium-ion gel packs the original and the incompatible batteries contain. Quite likely sadly not, because of Sony’s battery health chip on the BMS, which has to be reset using two different cables and software. Also cutting the wires in the right sequence is critical: positive first or it turns into a scene from Die Hard (1 or n, unsure which or how many there were/are) or something.

    I very much enjoy reading your OS articles, and those about somewhat obscure hardware and software, sometimes of yesteryear.

    1. nautica Silver badge

      Re: @Liam Proven

      The Sony Vaio was/is a beautiful machine; I still lust after one.

      If you're serious about upgrading it, I would be really surprised if MX-Linux 18.1 Continuum didn't do the trick, and in an elegant fashion (see this.). The later versions of MX have gotten slightly more bloated, but may still work fine. Certainly the latest version of antiX (NOT Artix), the spiritual cousin of MX Linux, would be an outstanding substitute.

      1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: @Liam Proven

        FWIW, my Vaio P cost me £100 on ePay, just pre-COVID.

        1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

          Re: @Liam Proven

          Mine cost me £68 on Gumtree several years ago - the seller texted me an address to meet up, then directed me to an alleyway adjoining the address he had texted... didn't even live there... and the BIOS had a (for setup) password, which had to be cleared later using a code obtained from a seller with a decoder on fleabay. Seller was one of those phone repair guys, the VAIO was used to update phones, he never looked at the BIOS, and hadn't set screen aspect ratio properly... so I haggled him down lol. After we'd done the deal, the lady who actually lived at the property challenged me, asking me what on earth I was doing in her alleyway, so I explained, and asked if she knew who the seller was - she did, vaguely. I suspect he feared buyers seeking refunds? Love my VAIO... I use it most days on the go. Nothing new is small enough...

    2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: @Liam Proven

      [Author here]

      Thanks very much for the kind words!

      > Have you tried Haiku on your Sony VAIO P?

      Ha! Actually, that is high on my list to try.

      It runs the RasPi Desktop reasonably, but it's sluggish.

      Oddly, I recently installed Windows XP on it, of all things, and it's quite responsive with that!

      1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

        Re: @Liam Proven

        >Thanks very much for the kind words!

        Your articles are highlights of The Reg

        >> Have you tried Haiku on your Sony VAIO P?

        >Ha! Actually, that is high on my list to try.

        Could you let us know how that goes? I for one, will read with much interest.

        > Oddly, I recently installed Windows XP on it, of all things, and it's quite responsive with that!

        Ah good old XP can make any old turd shine! I'm sure that flies compared to Win 7. It's good to hear yours is in use too. I was going to do the same, but didn't want to lose some function or other, can't recall which lacked XP drivers - audio gear is much easier to get working on XP than on Win 7 - I have two Core2Quad 9400 machines (exact hardware and software clones) still making themselves musically useful, and I use them every day. And I have spare motherboards for those mothballed, because they're so useful. However, I find quite a lot of websites will no longer load on any browsers available for XP (I only surf firewalled and port blocked to hell). Once I get a few 1/8" SSDs and solve the converter installtion problem (fitting it into the available space), I'll try various OSs on the VAIO and see what I can install to do useful work on the road. I'm glad I archived all the available drivers before pesky Sony removed them from their website.

      2. nautica Silver badge

        Re: @Liam Proven

        For some strange reason, which I find very odd (then again, perhaps not), I have not read any complimentary comments, from any quarter, on RaspPi Desktop.

  26. Spineapple

    In the early days of my computing higher learning one of the tasks for the class was to create a bootable USB with an operating system of the students choice and install it to what was, let's be honest, a piece of scrap metal, documenting the steps while doing so then performing some basic configuration once running.

    While everyone else was installing XP (and maybe the odd Ubuntu) my OS of choice was Haiku. This was 2010-ish so must have been early Alpha stages, but it did everything I needed it to do to pass that module.

    Glad to see it's still progressing and doing well, I may spin it up again and see what's changed.

  27. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    I wonder how Macrohard™ (their software aint small, and they're hard [of course, jokes are funnier when explained]) will kill Haiku? Presumably harder to kill, because of Google's involvement? I can't imagine Nadella liking this at all. But they make so much more money selling cloud - if Wins 10 and 11 are anything to go by, they clearly don't care about the desktop anymore. Never 10! And 11! 7 forever! (even if I have to virtualise 7 in Linux for decades)

  28. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    Has anyone tried Openshot on Haiku? It's available in the depot apparently - saw a Youtube vid some months ago, Openshot wouldn't install... this might have been fixed since?

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